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Always"watching"

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  1. I do have certain brands of which I am a fan; even those companies don't always get it right every time though. As a general rule, when buying a watch, it is the individual model that I go for (or against) rather than the brand but certain brands are themselves a sort of unofficial "guarantee" that the watch will live up to certain quality standards.
  2. Ostersetzer & Co GmbH is now a company engaged in the wholesale of watches, jewellery, alarm clocks and watch parts; its HQ is at Reinprechtsdorfer Strasse 46, 1050 Vienna. Interestingly from the point of view of this thread, Ostersetzer & Co has two wholly-owned partner companies, Oriosa Trading GmbH and Gloriosa Retail GmbH. Oriosa Trading is now engaged in rental and leasing, and is stated as formerly dealing with the trade and agency business, and also with the retail trade of jewels, gold, silver goods and watches. Gloriosa Retail is engaged in trade in goods of all kinds, especially jewellery and watches. Both Oriosa Trade and Gloriosa Retail are based at the address of Ostersetzer GmbH in Vienna. Note that the brand name, Gloriosa, also appears on vintage watches, and these were apparently sold by Ostersetzer on the UK market. According to Trademarkia, the actual trade mark, GLORIOSA, was in the hands of the Ostersetzer company from its initial registration in 1954 until 2014, when the brand name became defunct and open to new applicants for registration. My feeling about the R T Stone connection matches with Alan's view immediately above. I would suggest that Ostersetzer acquired/bought in the watch from a Swiss provider/manufacturer (possibly a Swiss company linked to Ostersetzer) and then sold it wholesale to R T Stone, who then retailed the watch in this country with his own brand name having been added to the dial at some stage. The caseback was branded Oriosa for Ostersetzer - either at source or by Ostersetzer themselves, who then may have added the R T Stone brand name to the dial as part of the wholesale package when selling the watch on to R T Stone (quite possibly the Richard Stone jewellery firm based in Derby, which is still going). The more one studies watches, the more one discovers complex supply chains running from the manufacture of individual components, through the assembly of watches, and then through the wholesale and retail chain, with different companies contributing to the final product over its gamut of manufacture and sale.
  3. That is one nice G-Shock, Richard. I can see how irritating that small digital seconds display could be in your line of work although, aesthetically, I prefer having just the two centre analogue main hands.
  4. I agree with Scott; the watch looks to me to be a normal automatic Visodate Seastar Seven from about the late 1960s or just into the 1970s. The Seastar Seven was introduced in 1964 and the number seven apparently referred to the seven essential qualities of the model that set it apart from other watches in the same price range. You will find that your particular Visodate Seastar Seven Automatic is a front-loader rather than having a normal attached caseback, and it is likely to be powered by a Tissot caliber 784 automatic movement.
  5. In the British Museum, among other marvels of horology, is a complex watch by Ferdinand Berthoud, one of the most celebrated watchmakers in France in the middle of the 18th century. This watch, signed “Ferdinand Berthoud A PARIS”, is masterpiece of micro-engineering and craftsmanship of its period and worth taking a look at both here and, of course, in the British Museum. Ferdinand Berthoud was born on 19 March 1727 in the village of Plancemont-sur-Couvet in the Canton of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, into a family with distinguished clock- and watchmakers among its number. At the age of fourteen, he was apprenticed to his brother, Jean Henri, to learn the art of clock- and watchmaking. In 1745, he left for Paris in order to gain more experience in clock- watchmaking. After working as a journeyman for various Paris watchmakers, Berthoud became a master clock- and watchmaker at the Order of the French Royal Council in 1753 aged 26, as an exception to guild rules; he was to remain in France until his death at Groslay on 20 June 1807. Portrait of Ferdinand Berthoud (pic from static2.worldtempus.com): A member of the Institut de France and an “associate foreign member” of the Royal Society in London, Berthoud was awarded the Légion d’Honneur and was made Pensionnaire du roi and Inspecteur général des machines pour la Marine. In addition to his prowess as a maker, Berthoud was also an accomplished and extensive writer on horology - a rarity for a practical watchmaker. He published ten volumes between 1759 and 1807, the most famous of which were probably, “Essai sur l’horlogerie” (1763) and “Histoire de la Mesure du temps” (1802). The Essai … was a two-volume work concerning the theory and practice of clock- and watchmaking that ran to nearly 1,000 pages of text and 38 plates of illustration. As an important aside, it is notable that Berthoud was involved in the important work to produce an accurate marine chronometer, and he paid visits to London twice (1763 and 1765) primarily to examine the work done in this field by John Harrison. Berthoud gained entry to London scientific circles thanks to his horological writing, and he himself succeeded in making marine chronometers for the French navy and other nautical tests and voyages. The gold-cased full-plate fusee watch designated by Berthoud as Number 333 on the gilded brass dust cover is an extraordinary piece. Firstly, it has a power reserve of thirty-two and a half days on a single wind. Even in the 19th century, eight-day watches were relatively scarce, so a month-going watch in the middle of the 18th century was an extreme rarity. Secondly, the watch features a half-quarter “dumb” repeat mechanism in which the hammers tap the hour and the number of seven and a half minute periods past on the inside of the case when the pendant is pushed down. The watch has a cylinder escapement ( brass wheel, steel cylinder, 3-arm gold balance), the most precise technology available at the time, and there is also a stop mechanism enabling the watch to be used as a timer. The escape wheel is mounted in the centre of the watch and its extended arbour carries the centre seconds hand (unfortunately now short in length due to the loss of its tip). Berthoud Gold-cased month-going cylinder watch with half-quarter repeat, centre seconds, stop lever, equation and date indications; marked by Berthoud as watch number 333 (pics from media.britishmuseum.org): The 51.5 mm diameter gold case of watch no. 333 is marked for Paris 1760 and also bears the maker’s mark “HBP” with a star above which probably refers to Horace Bénedict Pasteur who is recorded at rue St Louis between 1751 and 1753. The design on the caseback incorporates a universal equinoctal ring dial marked “OV BION A PA”, an armillary sphere, a pair of dividers, a telescope, an air pump and a book - a collection of objects indicating that the intended customer had scientific interests. Berthoud designed this watch with automatic indication of the equation of time - put simply, the equation of time is a complication that indicates the difference between the time displayed by the position of the sun (sundial) and the time displayed by any clock. The watch has a central white enamel disc, calibrated in minutes, which is controlled by a cam beneath the dial. This automatically rotates back and forth so that true solar time is indicated by the tail of the mean-time minute hand. Berthoud was evidently proud of this particular piece as evidenced by its inclusion in his “Essai sur l’horologie”. In his introduction, Berthoud writes, “In chapter XVIII I enter all the details of the construction of equation watches which I have made. I here explain the first one which has a dumb repeat and seconds and goes for 8 days and which marks the months of the year.” He then refers to two more watches, and says of the the second one, “I also present the calibre of an equation watch, jump centre-seconds, repeating, going for a month without re-winding, which marks the months of the year.” Ferdinand Berthoud was a watchmaker of considerable importance in the history of watchmaking, and for readers of this topic who wish to learn a bit more about him and his contribution to horology might usefully start at an article on Quill & Pad: online address, quill&pad.com/2015/09/19/who-was-ferdinand-berthoud-and-why-should-we-care/ Further pictures of Ferdinand Berthoud watch number 333 (pics from media.britishmuseum.org): The full specifications of the Berthoud watch number 333 can be seen at britishmuseum.org/collection/object/H_1958-1201-296 I have no idea as to the financial value of watch number 333, except that it is undoubtedly astronomical. For those who cannot afford a genuine period Ferdinand Berthoud pocket watch but would like a luxury timepiece that honours his work and bears his name on the dial, there is now an option to consider. In 2013, Chopard announced that they were to launch a new high-end Swiss watch brand in celebration of the life and work of Ferdinand Berthoud. This brand, "La Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud" launched its first wristwatch in 2015, the FB 1, and although there is perhaps a slightly disingenuous use here of Ferdinand Berthoud's name, the watches from La Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud represent something quite special in terms of their quality and design, and at least the brand has not fallen into the trap of losing sight of the modern world. The brand has skilfully interwoven traditional elements and materials with those that are more modern so that the watches reflect a respect for innovations of the past developed by Berthoud and other great watchmakers while also taking advantage of the technology of today. Particular acknowledgements are due to David Thompson, (The British Museum) "Watches", published by The British Museum Press, 2008 and 2014
  6. I second all those congratulating you on your retirement - enjoy.
  7. RAF Beaufighters of Coastal Command attack a German ship with devastating force (pic from BAE Systems/Ron Smith): I have to admit that when I came to this subject, I was still so beguiled by, and in awe of, the svelte beauty and fine performance of the de Havilland Mosquito that I tended to ignore the Beaufighter; indeed, the Beaufighter had always seemed to me to be the big, pugilistic, older brother of the more finely honed Mosquito, and I wasn’t sure how positive my opinions would be after researching it for this article. I needn’t have worried, however, because during the process of writing this topic, my respect for the Bristol Beaufighter has greatly increased and I now feel that the Beaufighter and the Mosquito should be seen as equals in a partnership over time; together fulfilling all the roles that a larger twin-engined fighter plane was ideal for. In terms of both aesthetics and practicality, the Beaufighter has a rugged doggedness and muscularity that is actually rather attractive, forcefully enhanced by its ability to carry and unleash massive firepower against our enemies during World War Two. The Beaufighter neatly complements the elegant and speedy airiness of the Mosquito, both planes capable of deadly use in their own fashion. Thankfully for history and for democratic civilisation, we had both of these aircraft and would have been less secure of victory without either one of them. So here is the Beaufighter story. During the period between the two world wars, the Bristol Aeroplane Company turned its attention to the concept of developing of a heavy long-range fighter, recognising the lack of such an aircraft in the RAF inventory. Accordingly, the chief designer at Bristol, Leslie G. Frise, and his colleague Roy Fedden, the firm’s engine designer, discussed the possibility of developing a single-seat fighter based on a Bristol bomber - either the Beaufort or the Blenheim - and presented their proposals to the Air Ministry in 1938 in advance of the RAF specifying a need for such an aircraft. This proposal resulted in official specification F.11/37 for a heavily armed fighter with a gun turret for a second crew member. In line with the specification, Frise and Fedden designed a twin-engined, two-seater fighter with massive firepower - four fixed 20 mm (0.787 in) cannon located under the nose in the space taken up in the Beaufort by the bomb aimer, and a further six 7.7 mm (0.303 in) machine guns mounted in the wings. A dorsal observer’s turret was added at the middle of the fuselage for the second crew member. An initial order for 300 Beaufighters was issued and the first prototypes took to the air in July 1939, the name of the aircraft being derived from the “Beau”fort bomber. In flight performance, the Beaufighter had one Achilles heel that was managed but never completely cured - longitudinal instability, giving the aircraft a tendency to sway, especially during take-off and landing. The first unarmed Beaufighter prototype no. 2052 in July 1939 (pic from BAE Systems, Ron Smith): Vintage poster showing a cutaway illustration of the Bristol Beaufighter Mk1 (pic from i.pinimg.com/originals): Beaufighter Mk.VI of 272 Squadron 1942 (pic from i.pinimg.com/originals): One advantage of the Beaufighter’s design was the fact that it utilised the major airframe components of the Bristol Beaufort torpedo-bomber already in production (viz. the wings, tail unit and landing gear) and with a somewhat shortened front fuselage the plane had a characteristic snub-nosed appearance. Partly due to the use and availability of well-tried and tested components, gestation period of the Beaufighter was relatively short, with Bristol even supplying its own Hercules engines to power the prototypes. Indeed, it was a matter of only 13 months between the first flight of a prototype and the introduction of the Beaufighter in September 1940. The first squadron to receive a Beaufighter were Nos. 25 and 29 sqaudron, on 2 September, and by 17 October 1940, night fighter unit No 29 squadron was up and running with Beaufighters. Other front-line squadrons (25, 219, 600 and 640) were soon being equipped with Beaufighters, and in late 1940 aircraft equipped with the newly developed AI Mk.IV radar system were introduced. On 14 November 1940, Flt Lt John “Cats Eyes” Cunningham claimed the first kill using the radar against a Junkers Ju 88. Cunnigham, of 604 squadron, was the most successful RAF night-fighter pilot; he and his radar operator Jimmy Rawnsley were credited with 19 confirmed victories at night and one during the day. He later went on to have a distinguished career as a test pilot, and worked for British Aerospace until his retirement in the 1980s. Cockpit of the Bristol T156 Beaufighter (pic from flight-manuals-online.com): During its development phase, it had been assumed at Bristol that the new aircraft would have a top speed of 540 kph (335 mph) but in reality, the twin Hercules III double-row radial engines did not provide quite enough power for this target to be reached and top speed was about 500 kph (310 mph), less than the Hawker Hurricane and also with higher fuel consumption. It had therefore become clear that the Beaufighter was not well-suited to the role of daytime interception. However, the plane really came into into its own as a night-fighter, and its use during the increased German bombing raids in 1940 was crucial. It had sufficient speed to gain the upper hand over German bombers and, when fully armed (for a short while in 1940, the Beaufighter flew with its cannon only due to a predicted shortage of machine guns destined for Spitfires and Hurricanes) could be a devastating opponent such that one salvo on target was enough to guarantee heavy damage. The Beaufighter Mk.IF (late production) was variously powered by Bristol Hercules III, X or XI engines, and the plane had a length of 12.6 m (41 ft 4 in) with a wingspan of 17.63 m (57 ft 10 in). Normal range was 2,141 km (1,5000 miles) with a top speed of 520 kph (323 mph) at 4,572 m (15,000 ft). The service ceiling was at 8,809 m (28,900 ft) and empty equipped weight of the aircraft was 6,381 kg (14,069 lb). Interestingly, the last major Beaufighter model or variant, the Mk.X, was about the same size as the Mk.I but considerably heavier in empty equipped weight and powered by more powerful Bristol engines - up from 1,400 hp to 1,770 hp. The service ceiling of the Mk.X was down to not far off only half that of the Mk.IF and top speed was only a tad faster. Prior to the Beaufighter, The Bristol Blenheim Mk.IF, equipped with radar, had been used in a stop-gap fashion as a night time fighter, but it was slow and lacked the necessary performance for the role; the Beaufighter Mk.I now filled this gap and took this fighting role to a new level. The Mk.IF Beaufighter had continued to use Bristol Hercules III air-cooled 14 cylinder double row radial engines through 1940, then upgraded versions of that engine, but with a change in strategy whereby the bomber fleet took priority and increased the demand for Hercules engines, the Beaufighter was required to use a different engine altogether. This resulted in the faster Mk.II Beaufighter, powered by two Rolls Royce Merlin XX engines; the even more powerful Rolls Royce Griffon was used in some Beaufighters. The Mk.II Beaufighter also incorporated a twelve degree dihedral tailplane as a remedy for the known low-speed instability of the aircraft, and this was to be fitted on all subsequent variants. The Bristol Beaufighter protected the night skies over Britain during the peak of German bombing raids which began to peter out in May 1941. During the last major raid on London on 10 May, Beaufighters shot down no less than 14 enemy aircraft - the most ever claimed on any one night. Beaufighter Mk.1C of the RAAF on the ground after flak damage, March 1943 (pic from asisbiz.com): The Beaufighter did not succumb to an early demise with the lessening of German bombing raids on the UK, nor even when the faster de Havilland Mosquito arrived on the scene - indeed, its time was by no means over. By mid-1941 the Beaufighter had been adopted by RAF Coastal Command in the form of the Mk.IC long-range strike fighter. The main focus for this version was the need for an aircraft able to strike at the Mediterranean area, and in order to increase the range, extra fuel tanks replaced the machine guns on the aircraft. The Mk.IC enjoyed considerable success against Italian and German shipping in the summer of 1941, and in November 1941, No 272 squadron mounted attacks on North African airfields destroying 44 aircraft in 4 days. The MK.IIF Beaufighter night fighter, of which over 400 were built, served with UK-based squadrons from April 1941. After the Beaufighter MK.II, came the Mk.VI which, like the Mk.II was produced in coastal (VIC) and fighter (VIF) versions. For night-fighting, the Mk.VIF was mainly equipped with the newly developed AI.MK VIII radar housed in a “thimble” nose. The ever-diminishing raids on the UK in 1942 freed many of the home-based squadrons to fly night raids over northern France, attacking trains, convoys, railway installations and other similar targets. The Mk.VIF was also used in an escort role during bombing raids, luring away Luftwaffe night fighters. Also in Europe, the Beaufighter Mk.VI was also used to help prepare the way for the invasion of Sicily and Italy and support Allied ground operations until the Italian surrender. And in the North Sea and Bay of Biscay, from 1942 until the end of the War, Beaufighter Mk.VIC aircraft sank or crippled thousands of tons of enemy shipping and submarines using their cannon and rocket projectiles. A Bristol Beaufighter in the National Museum of the American Air Force, Dayton Ohio. This example was manufactured on license by Fairey Aviation Co., Stockport, and delivered to the RAAF in 1942. It bears the markings of USAAF pilot Capt. Harold Augspurger of 415th Night Fighter Squadron who shot down a Heinkel 111 carrying German staff officers in September 1944, and the bottom picture presumably shows the plane during restoration (pics from media.defense.gov): The Mk.VI Beaufighter was instrumental in inflicting serious damage not only in the European theatre of war but also further afield. Squadrons of Beaufighter Mk.VIF fighters were operational in the Far East against Japanese lines of communication in Burma, mounting daily low-level raids and destroying 66 locomotives, 123 ships, and 96 road vehicles in the nine months from the end of 1942. The Mk.VI was to continue to operate against the Japanese until the end of the War, its deadly armaments now enhanced by the use of rockets; the aircraft earned the name of “Whispering Death” from the Japanese. Somewhat nearer to home, the Beaufighter MK.VI replacement of the Mk.IC played a vital role in the victory in North Africa, roaming widely and attacking targets opportunistically. Beaufighter Mk.VIC aircraft in the air (pic from Biggles wiki at vignette.wikia.net) Explosion of a German ship after attack by Beaufighters on a German convoy, probably off the southern coast of Norway and the North Sea (pic from i.pinimg.com/originals): The success of the Beaufighter in its anti-shipping role led to the development of the last major variant of the aircraft, the Mk.X, of which 2,205 were made This variant was developed from the MkVI(ITF) interim torpedo fighter and entered service in 1943; it was powered by two Bristol Hercules XVII 1770 hp engines. The Mk.X had a range of 2,366 km (1,470 miles) with 1,700 lb torpedo, and a top speed of 488 kph (303 mph) at 395 m (1,300 feet). In terms of armaments, the Beaufighter Mk.X was more variable than earlier models. It was heavily armed, as were earlier models, with 4 nose-mounted 20mm cannon and six 7.7 mm (0,303 in) machine guns in the wings, but also had a dorsal-mounted 7.7 mm machine gun (NB it is evident that some pre-Mk.X Beaufighters had a dorsal mounted machine gun; others used this turret solely for observation/radar operation by the second crew member). The aircraft could also carry either a single 965 kg (2,127 lb) or 748 kg (1,650 lb) torpedo beneath the fuselage, plus either eight rocket projectiles fitted in racks under the wings or two (113 kg) 250lb bombs. The rocket-armed Mk.X Beaufighters could be used for both air-to-sea missions or for ground attack. Mk.X Beaufighter torpedo fighters featuring a modified version of the AI.Mk VIII radar system in a “thimble” nose, and unofficially known as the “Torbeau”, proved to have excellent air-to-surface capabilities and became the standard variant for Coastal Command for the last two years of the War. In March 1945, Beaufighter TF Mk.Xs of nos. 236 and 254 squadrons managed to locate and destroy five German U-boats in the space of just 48 hours. Beaufighter TFXs (Mk.X Torpedo Fighter) of the RCAF showing rocket projectile racks beneath the wings (pic from BAE Systems/Ron Smith): Beaufighter Mk.X armed with rocket launchers and with thimble-nose radar system (pic from tracesofwar.com): An attack by a Beaufighter on shipping in the mouth of the Gironde, Bay of Biscay, towards the end of 1944 - this picture was taken by a camera mounted in the aircraft's nose (pic from Australian Memorial at S3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com): The last Beaufighter model to be produced (163 in total) was the XIC, made for Coastal Command and similar to the Mk.X yet without the ability to carry a torpedo. Production of the Beaufighter continued until 1945 in the UK and 1946 in Australia and totalled 5.928 units.The last examples still in service were retired in the RAAF in 1960. The Beaufighter also served in a number of other air forces including those of Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and the USA - Others ended up in Portugal and Turkey. The Beaufighter had fought in all the major theatres of World War Two and turned out to be an aircraft worthy of the greatest respect and regard. A Mk.XTT (target-tower) Beaufighter in post-War role shortly before the type was withdrawn from RAF service (pic from BAE Systems/Ron Smith): The final Beaufighter variant, the XIC, in a state of restoration under the Fighter Collections Restoration Project, at Duxford, in 2013 (pic from upload.wikimedia.org): Illustration by Ivan Berryman showing a Beaufighter based in malta attacking Italian shipping and aircraft (pic from i.pinimg.com/originals): The main sources for the text of this topic - the most important first, then in descending order - are as follows: “Aircraft of World War Two: A Visual Encyclopedia”, by Michael Sharpe, Jerry Scutts, and Dan Marsh; Parkgate Books, London, 2000 (1st published in 1999 by PRC Publishing Ltd). “Fighter: Technology, Facts, History”, by Ralf Leinburger; Paragon Books Ltd, Bath, 2008. “The Hamlyn Concise Guide to British Aircraft of World War II”, by David Mondey; Chancellor Press, London, 1994 (1st pub. By Hamlyn in 1982) “101 Great Fighters: Legendary Fighting Aircraft from WWI to the Present”, General ed. Robert Jackson; Sandcastle Books, Sheriffs Lench, Worcestershire, 2008 “Fighter Aircraft: Featuring Photographs from the Imperial War Museum”, by Francis Crosby of the Imperial War Museum Duxford; Published by Hermes House, London an imprint of Anness Publishing Ltd, 2002 and 2007.
  8. I must admit that I am not as keen on this watch as I feel I ought to be. What puts me off is the shape of the case beneath the dial/bezel. It reminds me of a squashed cow-pat oozing outside its proper parameters beneath the dial/bezel. Sorry - I know I should be ashamed of myself.
  9. Obviously a ""stealth" model. G-Shocks are a collectible on the rise, and pretty good wearers as well. I am a fan and have two or three examples; I just hope that Casio doesn't start upping the prices too much because at the moment, most Casio watches are very good value.
  10. May I also thank you Rog @Roger the Dodger for that useful information for members given in your two (widely spaced timewise) posts on this thread. I must admit that even though I am a mod and should know better, I was not aware of all the details pertaining to the edit function.
  11. Thanks for showing that interesting watch, Norman. These sort of attribution questions are certainly tricky, but your new evidence does indicate that the Alter watches may be French in origin although French movements were used internationally by certain watch companies. I still feel that there may be a Portugese connection ...
  12. Many watch companies have engaged at various times in a quest to connect with their history and traditions, leading to the introduction of watches that reach back into the archives and pay homage to particular historical models or milestones. One of these companies is Milus, and the watch we are looking at here is the Snow Star; the Snow Star Instant Date and the new Snow Star re-edition wristwatch. The Milus watch company was founded in 1919 by Paul William Junod and in 1930, the company started using a stylized crown logo relating to the Greek God, Hermes. After a long history, the firm, based in Biel/Bienne, has recently undergone a revival, with some fresh ideas as well as a neat remake of the Snow Star, whose interesting history I relate below. Currently, the firm is owned by a member of the Tissot family, and a period during the early 2000s when Milus focussed on high-end watches with expensive complications has come to an end - the firm is now concentrating on practicality, good value and classically styled watches. The original Snow Star model dates to the late 1930s-early 1940s, and it wasn’t until about 2011 that Doron Basha, president and CEO of Milus discovered that the company and the Snow Star had played an unusual and important part in the lives of US Navy pilots flying over the Pacific during World War Two - a piece of the firm’s history that had passed into obscurity over the years. A Milus Snow Star Instant Date taken from a life barter kit that had been scrapped for its gold content (pic from omegaforums.net): During the War, certain fighter and bomber pilots assigned to this theatre of conflict were supplied from 1942 with “life barter kits” - wax-sealed packages carried in their backpacks which contained 24-carat gold pieces and a Milus watch. The idea behind these kits is that should the pilots crash-land or be forced to parachute into enemy or otherwise unfriendly territory, they would be provided with bargaining materials. These life barter kits contained two small gold rings, a segment of gold chain, a small gold pendant, and lastly but not least a Milus Snow Star wrist watch together with a rolled up black fabric strap. The contents were sealed in a rubber block, and each item was wrapped in tissue paper; identification was by a two or three digit serial number on the outside. View of an original World War Two US Navy pilot's "life barter kit" (pic from omegaforums.net): The new Snow Star re-edition alongside an original US Navy pilot's "life barter kit" (see text) (Pic from Monochrome Watches at k8q7r7az.stackpathcdn.com): It is not known exactly why the US Navy chose the Milus “Snow Star Instant Date” to be included in these kits but it seems that they were looking for a suitably reliable and well-made watch that would be sufficiently valuable as an article of exchange. It is also not known exactly how the Navy acquired the watches for use in the life barter kits, they may have commissioned the watches from Milus themselves or entered into secret negotiations with a US retailer of Milus watches to supply them. Or did they just buy a number of Snow Star watches from a local jeweller? In/from 1980, the US government sold off its remaining stock of life barter kits, most of them still unopened since the early 1940s and accompanied by an X-ray of the contents; this sell-off seems to have passed the Milus company by and they remained ignorant of the kits until some thirty years later. As soon as the Milus company learned of its World War Two role as provider of a “bargaining chip” for downed navy pilots, it launched a mission to collect as many World War Two life barter kits as it could, and connect them with the pilots themselves or members of their families. By June 2012, three kits had been found and in all three, the Milus watch was still working. Also by that time, in early-mid 2011, Milus had launched a limited-edition "Heritage" version of the Snow Star, sold with a pair of cufflinks and commemorative dog tags. This watch had a 40mm case, a magnified date feature, a sweep hand, and was powered by an original-yet-overhauled mechanical movement from the 1940s. The watch was made in two runs; 99 in 18 carat red gold and 1,940 in steel. Note that I have not illustrated this particular Snow Star model, but it is well-illustrated online. Moving on in time to the present day, the latest iteration of the Milus Snow Star Instant Date is a respectable homage timepiece with a 39 mm 904L polished stainless steel case (904L steel being the grade that is used by Rolex) and screw-on solid steel caseback. Other specifications include dauphine hands, a slightly domed AR-coated sapphire crystal, screw-down crown with 100 metres water resistance, and the watch is powered by an ETA 2892A2 automatic movement which runs at 4 Hz and has a power reserve of 42 hours. Note that there is no lume on the watch which, in my personal opinion, is a good thing and allows the polished hands to really show themselves off. A minor niggle is that apparently the small quick-release levers on the supplied strap are visible when wearing the watch. The model is available in two colourways - black (with a black leather and khaki green fabric strap) or silver dial (with a black fabric and leather strap). I prefer the silver dial, which is in keeping with the original Snow Star, and I should just mention that this dial has a pale champagne tone in some lights. Price is 1598 Euros. The new Milus Snow Star re-edition - black dial colourway with the khaki fabric strap, and below, silver-dial colourway with black fabric strap (pics from Monochrome Watches at k8q7r7a2stackpathcdn.com): Rear view of the new Milus Snow Star (pic from Monochrome Watches at k8q7r7a2.stackpathcdn.com): Silver dial colourway of the latest Snow Star with Khaki fabric strap usually provided with the black dial version (pics from ablogtowatch.com): As an aside, here is a rather beautiful 1970s automatic 18 carat gold Milus Snow Star with 34 mm (excl. crown) case and mineral glass crystal (pic from assets.catawiki.nl): And now, the finale to this story has to be told ... When I myself looked critically at the pictures of the Milus Snow Star Instant Date as included in the World War Two life barter kits, I did wonder about the actual date of these watches. Everything about them seemed to indicate that they might be later than suggested - later 1950s into the early 1960s. I am not alone in thinking that there might be a problem in date attribution; indeed, a thread on the Omegaforums (omegaforums.net/threads/time-capsule.42389/) discussed this matter quite thoroughly and also shows an interesting piece from the New York Times of 13 January 1980 (attachment on omegaforums.net): Given the evidence discussed on the Omegaforums thread, I feel that at least some of the life barter kits were produced/issued at a date later than the Second World War, and thus featured a model of the Milus Snow Star that dates to the post-War period. The New York Times piece mentions that these kits were also issued during the Korean War and it may be that the surviving kits sold off by the US Government were even later than that, actually put together as late as the early 1960s. At this stage, I just do not have enough information to make conclusive statements about this controversy, and I leave the matter as a tantalising historical question for others to solve; I note that the Milus records from the 1940s were apparently destroyed in a fire.
  13. Thanks for showing that watch, Norman. It seems that we are honing in on Portugal as the most likely source of the Alter brand name; in terms of a possible South American link, I would expect Brazil to be the most likely contender. I must also welcome the fact that @Chantry1 has acknowledged the research that members do to answer queries posted on the Forum. It makes quite a difference when a thank you is posted on such a thread.
  14. Where are my offers then? NOTHING, not a dicky bird... Surely I should be hearing from Lorus soon. That's about my mark at the moment.
  15. I have not been able to find much about the Alter watch brand, but I am pretty sure that it is not Swiss. I illustrate the one vintage Alter watch that I have managed to find, and note that the back of the watch has been inscribed, "Fernando Gomez" together with the astrological lion and "Leo." The seller of this mechanical hand-wind watch (Vintage Watches at sokm77wsatches.blogspot.com) thought it might be of West German manufacture (for reasons unknown ) while I myself am leaning towards a Portugese or perhaps a Latin American origin for the "Alter" brand. Further research is needed.
  16. Welcome to the Forum, Chantry. The term, "cronometro" (Eng. chronometer) written on the dial of your watch relates to the accuracy of the watch/movement and not to any "stop watch" function. The history of the term "chronometer" is an interesting one, but to cut things short, I will say that some watches marked with this term cannot actually claim to be chronometers in the more modern sense of the word. For a watch to be a true chronometer, it has to be tested by a relevant body and reach certain standards of accuracy. Unfortunately, certain companies still like to put the term, "chronometer", on watches that have no rightful claim to be classed as such. I am doing a rapid research binge to see if I can find out something about "Alter" watches: I will post my results here below on this thread.
  17. There are some interesting comments on this issue on the following forum thread: edcforums.com/threads/rubber-silicon-resin-bands-durability-issues.135165/ It would seem that there is some consensus that there have been great improvements made over the years in the durability of resin/rubber watch straps used by Casio, at least on their higher quality watches such as G-Shocks.
  18. Dear @BondandBigM and @sabailand, please note that I have deleted my attempted link to the article comparing Omega and Hublot, as well as your posts warning me that the link was not working. I decided that it would be best to remove all posts referring solely to the link to avoid any confusion. Thanks for pointing out that my attempt at uploading the link had failed.
  19. (Pic from learning-history.com) The story of the Messerschmitt 163 Komet begins in 1938 with aerodynamic research conducted by Dr Alexander Lippisch with two gliders developed by the German Institute for Glider Research (Deutsches Forschunginstitut für Segelflug), the DFS 39 and DFS 194. These gliders were of swept-wing design and tailless, and were to be the test bed for Lippisch to experiment with rocket propulsion and its effects on this type of aircraft design, with an eye on breaking the sound barrier. In terms of power plant, Lippisch turned to Walter for provision of a rocket engine similar to that which had been used for the experimental Heinkel-built He 176 which had already flown. At the beginning of 1939, no doubt stimulated by the increasing likelihood of a war, the DFS 194, together with its design staff, was transferred to the Messerschmitt company in Augsberg where Lippisch began work on the design of a rocket-powered tailless swept-wing aircraft. At first, engine-less glide tests (the plane being towed aloft, and various glider sorties) were performed to prove the tailless swept-wing formula and hone the design of the aircraft, and with the success of these, rocket engines were fitted. Powered flight tests were carried out in the summer of 1941 at Peenemünde, starting in August, initially using the Walter R-II-203 rocket engine. With its extraordinary performance figures, military officials could not ignore the seeming possibilities of this aircraft and prototypes of the Me 163B were ordered on 1 December 1941. Thus, the single-engined, single-seat, Me 163 Komet rocket-powered interceptor was born. This was a small aircraft; the Me 163 B-A1 measured 5.69 m (18 ft 8 in) in length with a wingspan of 9.32 m (30 ft 7 in); its size and dumpy shape led pilots to nickname it “Kraft Ei” (Power Egg). A Messerschmitt 163B interceptor on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force (top pic from upload.wikimedia.org, then from the National Museum of the US Air Force at media.defense.gov) Before moving on to discuss the Me 163 post development, it is important to mention the role of Heini Dittmar in perfecting the design of the Me 163; it was he who carried out vital flight tests on the aircraft, both in glider form and as a rocket-powered aircraft. Dittmar himself was a glider pilot who worked in aircraft design and testing during World War Two and became the first person to exceed 1,000 km/h. The exact speed he achieved in his Me 163 on 2 October 1941 was 1,0003.67 km/h (623.65 mph). Deliveries of the first Me 163 production models began in early 1944. Due to delays with the supply of engines and the time required for testing and the training of pilots and ground crew, it was not until May 1944 that the Me 163 was ready to be deployed as a daylight fighter against the B17s of the US Eighth Air Force. Because the recording of aerial victories all but ceased towards the end of the War, it is not known exactly how many bombers were shot down by the Me 163; confirmed kills numbered 9 (including 2 probables) while estimates vary from 20-60. Cutaway illustration of Me 163B-1 by Steve Karp; HistoryNet at 263i3m2dw9nnf6zqv39ktpr1-wpengine.netdata-ssl.com) The role of the Me 163 in the Luftwaffe was necessarily restricted, mainly due to its performance characteristics. It’s clear advantage lay in its rate of climb and maximum speed, which were astonishing for the time. The initial rate of climb of the Me 163 B-1 was 80 m (252 ft) per second, and the plane could reach 12,000 m (39,370 ft) in just three minutes; because the rocket engine did not rely on oxygen, the Me 163 could attain 16,000 m (52,500 ft), an altitude beyond the reach of all other co-current aircraft - with its engine running, it was virtually unstoppable. Nevertheless, the high speed of the Me 163 (maximum speed, 959 kph (596 mph) was not always an advantage: Firstly, at the highest achievable speeds, air compressability became a problem and the Me 163 could then become difficult to control. And the second problem with the high speed of the aircraft occurred when encountering target bombers. In order to avoid ramming a target plane, the Me 163 was forced to veer away at a distance of 200 m (650 ft). The MK 108 30 mm canons (firing at 600 rounds per minute) fitted in the wing roots of the Me 163 (which replaced the original 2 MG 151 20mm canons) had a relatively short range, and it transpired that the pilot only had a window of just 450 m (1,480 ft) in which to fire, a distance covered by the Me 163 in one or two seconds. Pilots found that it was almost impossible to successfully take aim, and many of them missed when attacking US bombers. Interestingly, an alternative weapons system was developed for the Me 163 comprising five R4M 50 mm (1.97 in) rocket launchers mounted vertically in the root of each wing. When a light cell on top of the plane detected a target above, a salvo of rockets would be fired upwards. This innovative weapon, the “Jagfaust”, was never put into production but at least one B-17 bomber was shot down using it. A series of archive photographs of the Me 163 Komet from the Luftwaffa World War Two archive site, luftarchiv.de/LuftArchiv.de: In addition to the rate of climb and the overall speed of the Me 163 while being powered by the rocket engine, the other performance parameter affecting its military role was the lack of range and endurance. The powered endurance of the engine was a mere 7.5 seconds (with a range of 80 km (50 miles)), which meant that the Me 163 had to be based either in the direct flight path of the enemy bomber streams or else in the vicinity of the object to be protected. After take-off, the Me 163s would climb to an interception altitude of 10,000 m (32,800 ft) and would then have a maximum of four minutes in which to attack. Walter subsequently developed a power plant with an additional cruise combustion chamber which extended the combat time to nine minutes, still extremely short, but the newly revised Me 163C with the new engine (and bubble canopy) came too late for full production and deployment. There was even, briefly, an Me 163D which finally did away with the jettisoned wheels in favour of a retractable undercarriage and featured a new Walter engine The first fighter unit to recieve the Me 163 Komet was I Gruppe Jagdgeschwader 400, which was equipped with the Me 163 B-1A in May 1944 and transferred to Brandis airfield outside Leipzig to protect the Leuna chemical plant. A pre-production V series aircraft was the first Me 163 to fly operationally, in May 1944, but the first contact with enemy bombers was on 17 August 1944 when Brandis-based I Gruppe JG 400 made an unsuccessful attack on American B-17s. A second JG 400 squadron was formed and equipped with Me 163s and stationed in Venlo in the Netherlands. However, when it was discovered that no enemy bombers were taking that route to Germany, this second unit was also moved to Brandis. About 40 Komets and a similar number of pilots were now based at Brandis, and were additionally given responsibility for defending the Buna plant near Halle - meaning that the entire force of Me 163s was now devoted to protecting the manufacture of synthetic fuels vital to Germany’s war effort. An Me 163 being shot down, recorded by a gun camera ( Above Pics from i.pinimg.com) The engine powering the Me 163 B-1A Komet was a single Walter HWK-509-A1 liquid-fuel rocket producing 14.70 kN (3,305 lbf) thrust. This engine utilised a combustion chamber and blast pipe rather than simply a solid-fuel rocket; two extremely volatile liquid components - the oxidiser (or T-Stoff), a solution mainly consisting of hydrogen peroxide, and the fuel itself (the C-Stoff), a solution based on hydrazine hydrate and methanol - were brought into contact with each other in the combustion chamber, producing thrust via a jet nozzle. The Me 163 was not the great success that had been anticipated in view of the promising raw performance figures. In the event, the withdrawal of the Me 163 before the end of the War, with 470 having been built in total, came about primarily due to the practical problems encountered in adopting a pioneering rocket-engined fighter plane without resolving serious technical difficulties, some of which involved major safety concerns: Firstly, there were design flaws in the practical considerations for landing and take-off. The Me-163 took off on a double-wheeled dolly jettisoned once the aircraft was in the air, and it landed on an extensible, sprung skid located forward of the centre of gravity. In take-off pilots could jettison their landing gear too early: the wheels sometimes bounced back and damaged the plane or even caused it to crash. As for landing, even though pilots wore some protection against contact with fuel (with one of the tanks being located behind the pilot’s head) they were constrained to use up all their fuel during the sortie in view of accidents caused by contact with the corrosive engine fuel on landing. Thus, the Me 163 would glide back to base (remember that the Me 163, with its plywood wings, was still in essence part glider) with empty tanks, at which point it was vulnerable to attack by Allied escort fighters. And vibration was a real problem generally, not merely the result of a bad landing, with explosions caused by fuel fumes building up in the cabin, and Me 163s were known to explode for no apparent reason. Picture showing the "scheuch schlepper" or towing vehicle, used before takeoff and after landing (Pic from upload@wikimedia.org): The two-wheeled dolly that carried the Me 163B during takeoff before being jettisoned as the aircraft left the ground (Pic from upload@wikimedia.org) Secondly, there were real hazards when it came to refuelling the Me 163 and this procedure had to be carried out by specially trained staff under the safest conditions. If the two fuel components came together, even in small quantities, the result was an uncontrolled explosion, frequently lethal. The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet was both a taste of the future and simultaneously a dead-end. In terms of wing design, the plane was advanced and was prescient in featuring the swept-wing formula. Interestingly, Alexander Lippisch continued to be a pioneering aircraft designer. His experience with the development of the ME 163 gave him a march on others towards the end of the War in researching the use of high-speed swept and delta which were to be crucial for later military aircraft in the age of the jet engine. In contrast to this prescience, the Me 163 was a dead-end in terms of aircraft engine development; rocket power was just not well-suited to the needs of aircraft - both military and civil - and it was to be jet engines that were the foretaste of things to come in terms of powered flight. It is ironic that an unsuccessful World War Two fighter built in rather small numbers should have been preserved to the extent that quite a few still exist; this is essentially a tribute to how advanced this aircraft was seen to be by the Allies that it required examples to be acquired for study, and how high speed and rapid rate of climb were sought by air forces the world over. Ejection from an Me 163 (pic from ww2aircraft.net): Article title illustration, "Bat out of Hell" (Pic from historynet.com) : NOTE: When researching and writing topics of this nature, one often discovers slight discrepancies between sources in figures given for specifications such as size, top speed, range, dates, etc.. I have done my best here to be as consistent and accurate as possible when stating specifications but one cannot always verify which is the most accurate source. Acknowledgements: A number of sources were used in the writing of this article and particular thanks is due to the following two publications: “Fighter: Technology, Facts, History”, by Ralph Leinburger; Parragon Books Ltd, Bath, 2008. “Aircraft of World War II: A Visual Encyclopedia”, by Michael Sharpe, Jerry Scutts, and Dan March; Parkgate Books Ltd, London, 2000 (originally published in 1999 by PRC Publishing Ltd)
  20. As Balaton says, Lessa was a German watch brand owned by the jewellery and watch firm Gebr. Hummel, of Pforzheim. Judging from a look at examples online, the brand name (usually in script with initial "L" being extended to underline the rest of the name) appears on wristwatches from perhaps as early as about 1940 up to about the early 1980s. There are both mechanical and quartz examples of Lessa watches, and I do not know if the Quartz Crisis was partly responsible for the demise of the brand.
  21. I sometimes ask Kris to look at a watch while I am browsing the internet to see what her reaction will be. Many times, the reaction is a slightly cynical, "Yes, it's a watch, just like so many other watches." However, occasionally Kris will light up and say that a watch is particularly nice and a bit different. The last watch that received such a good reaction is the Ice Watch P. Leclercq chronograph in red, yellow and black colourway, and I must admit that I wouldn't mind one of those: (Pic from images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com)
  22. Dear @JayK, may I suggest you contact Simon, the Forum's repair guru and provider of sound advice. He can be contacted by going to the "Watchmaking and Repairs" section of the Forum and using the "Ask Simon" feature.
  23. Until relatively recently in my life, I never considered myself to have a favourite colour. Gradually, however, I have sensed that blue is my favourite, and that feeling has grown stronger over the years. This favouritism does not mean that I am blinkered when it comes to the virtues of the other colours in our perceptual framework, and watches are not always best when they are blue; it is just a heightened internal emotional sensibility to the different hues of the colour blue from deepest indigo to the cobalt blue of early blue and white English porcelain. In celebration of my favourite colour then, I present two new blue watches for your delectation in this topic, very different in terms of price but both rather beautiful and worthy of attention. The cheapest of these two new watches by a long chalk comes from the Marloe Watch Company, now based in Perth, Scotland, and a relative newcomer to the scene. The model that I include here from this small British company is the Haskell Polar Blue Edition, a limited edition (100 pieces) watch inspired by Captain Scott and the Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole. I will not discuss the somewhat laboured blurb on the Marloe website as to the relationship between the Haskell collection, including the Polar Blue Edition, and Captain Scott’s ill-fated mission to reach the South Pole first because anyone interested can look that up for themselves on the Marloe Watch Company website. Instead, I will look at and evaluate the watch in its own right, so to speak. (Above three pics from Marloe Watch Company at cdn.gethypervisual.com and, bottom two, cdn.shopify.com) The Marloe Watch Company has already started to gain a good reputation and the watches appear to be well-made; the focus of the watches seems to be the use of mechanical hand-wind movements, with the Haskell range using Swiss calibers. The Haskell Polar Blue Edition is powered by a Sellita SW-251-1 hand-wind caliber with hacking function and quickset date; it runs at 28,800 bph and is accurate to +/-12 seconds per day. The watch has a polished stainless steel 40mm case and is 9.4 mm thick. The crystal is sapphire with AR coating and lume is provided by BG-W9 Super LumiNova. Both the caseback and the dial are designed to reflect the Earth as a globe - utilising a subtle radiating map grid printed on the dial and a domed inner portion of the caseback, which is also decorated with a map of Ross Island. The watch has a stated water resistance of 10 ATM and comes on a Nappa Dark Blue Oceania leather strap. The price is £845, and with the company gaining a decent reputation, I would expect the limited edition to sell out. If you are into black dials then I can tell you that a black dial version of the Polar Blue is also available. (Above 2 pics from Marloe Watch Company at cdn.gethypervisual.com) Whilst the Marloe Polar Blue Edition safely fulfills my criteria for beauty in watch design, the second watch examined in this topic is at the top of my aesthetic tree; it is quite simply exquisite. This model is the new Breguet Classique Tourbillon Extra-Plat Automatique 5367PT Blue Enamel, which in my view trumps the other watches using the same tourbillon movement, the Breguet caliber 581, initially launched in 2013 when, at just 3 mm thick, it was initially a record breaker. Interestingly, there are certain design similarities between the Marloe Polar Blue and the Brequet masterpiece apart from the blue dial - the use of straight “box-like” lugs, a simple unobtrusive silver-coloured bezel, a case width of about 40 mm, and a blue leather strap. (Above 3 pics from static.watchtime.com) The Tourbillon Extra-Plat 5367PT Blue "Grand Feu" Enamel is wonderfully minimal, with a deep “grand feu” enamel dial that sports a slender pair of Breguet hands and a delicate ovoid chapter ring showing the Arabic numerals and minute markers; the off-set placing of the ovoid silvered chapter ring perfectly highlights the tourbillon cage which is positioned between four and five o’clock. Note that the tourbillon has its own ring of markers on the dial and displays the running seconds; also note the small Breguet "secret signature" on the dial just above the tourbillon. The enamelling of the dial is a highly skilled process whereby multiple thin layers are built up over a gold base, ultimately giving a gentle sheen to the blue allowing it to change hue in different lights. The Breguet caliber 581 movement that powers the watch represents a bridge between traditional Breguet craftsmanship and modern micro-engineering, including the continued development of that Breguet speciality - the tourbillon. Further specifications of the caliber 581 movement are given here below with specifications of the watch: Platinum case (41 mm X 7.45 mm) with fluted caseband and sapphire crystal front and back. Welded lugs with strap secured by screws, 30 metres water resistance; blue “grand feu” enamel dial, chapter ring with Breguet numerals. Automatic 33J movement with 334 components designated caliber 581: 3 mm thick and 16’’’ with 80 hour power reserve, silicon pallets, balance spring and escape wheel running at 4 Hz (28,800 bph); one minute tourbillon with titanium carriage; peripheral rotor at the edge of the movement riding on a ring with on inward facing teeth which engage with the rest of the automatic winding train, platinum weight mass. Rear of the movement richly hand-decorated in somewhat baroque manner; rear tourbillon bridge engraved with a reference to Abraham Louis Breguet’s patent of 26 June 1801. Blue alligator strap with triple folding clasp. Price $161,800 (£133,800) only available from the 39 Breguet boutique stores; not a limited edition but likely to become a rare and desirable watch. (Above four pics from Monochrome Watches at k8q7r7a2.stackpathcdn.com) (Above three pics from quillandpad.com)
  24. Nice one all round! Good pics those, such microscopic detail I could probably identify you forensically by a single wrist hair.
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